The estate of the late Caroline Craik came up at Aldridges and was offered without reserve. Auctioneer Ivan Street told ATG the collection of furniture, pictures, pottery and antiques was “an Aladdin’s cave” and its sale represented “the end of an era”. He added that it was one of the most enjoyable consignments to handle in his 38 years in the business.
Craik was a dealer whom he had known personally for many years and who passed away earlier this year. She spent 50 years in the trade, declaring herself “more an owl than a lark” as she would often work late into the night cleaning, polishing and preparing her stock.
The dealership that she established in Bath and ran with her husband Brian Craik at 8, Margaret Buildings was described by The Telegraph in 1998 as “an eccentric shop" specialising in “hotel plate, old cricket balls and things that other people won't sell”.
Over the years, she appeared several times on television, including on Antiques Road Trip, and could count the likes Johnny Depp and Will Young among the celebrities to visit the shop.
The items offered at Aldridges were described as mostly from her private collection rather than her stock, but the family allowed the auctioneers free reign in estimating the works at attractive levels.
All of the lots found willing takers at the sale but the star of the day by some distance was a silver vase that was finely decorated with a stylised foliate design.
It measured 11in (28cm) high and Street said that, after a brief inspection, he thought it was likely an early 20th century piece and estimated it at £200-300. It was catalogued as an ‘Indian silver vase of ovoid form with narrow neck and foot, with all-over finely embossed & engraved stylised floral design’.
However, with eagle-eyed bidders carefully examining the intricate details and speculation centring on its date and origin, it became the subject of a prolonged bidding contest on the day. It was eventually knocked down at £23,000 to online buyer on thesaleroom.com.
The second highest price of the sale was for a rural landscape painting by Pierre Adolphe Valette (1876-1942), an artist whose works appear regularly at auction. Depicting a sheep grazing beneath trees with a farmhouse in the background, the 18 x 16in (46 x 41cm) signed oil on canvas dated from 1914. At the sale, it exceeded a £1000-1500 estimate and sold at £8200.
Two traditional English chairs also drew competition that took them well over their £100-150 estimates. Both were catalogued as 19th century ash and elm comb-back chairs with flat curved arms and turned splay legs. Both sold to online buyers, one fetching £4500 and the other £4700.
The auctioneers said that online bidding was a major feature of the sale with 678 registered internet bidders and just over half of the overall £170,000 hammer total sold online.